How the 2020 Presidential Election has Impacted Digital Advertising

How this Election is Impacting your Digital Ad Campaigns?

2020 has been a crazy year. Many events this year have impacted every industry, including digital marketing. First Covid-19 changed the world and how we advertise. Then, just as digital marketers were beginning to adjust to the changes demanded by Covid-19, we are now in the middle of a fierce presidential election with the largest advertising spend ever seen.

How Much More Money Is Being Spent in the 2020 Election vs. the 2016 Election?

Political advertising spend is expected to be nearly 3 times higher than in 2016, with a major increase in digital. In 2016, political candidates spent $740 million on digital advertising, and in 2020 that amount is expected to more than double to $1.82 billion by the end of the election. Much of this will be spent on Facebook ads and Google ads. Digital advertisers have been seeing this competition impact their campaigns for the last couple of months, but it has really intensified in October. Candidates are likely pushing everything they have left to get in front of voters before the election.

It’s also not just the presidential primary driving this spend, although it does account for the largest amount of spend. The presidential primary saw a total spend of $1.17 billion on all digital advertising. The House and Senate races are expected to spend around $1 billion each and governor races are expected to exceed a quarter of a billion dollars. Ballot initiatives are also seeing a large chunk of the spend – they are projected to exceed $1 billion.

FoundSM has seen the effects of this increased spending first-hand, but it is not impacting all platforms equally. For several of our clients, Facebook campaigns have had increased CPMs in October, which have led to increased CPLs for lead generation campaigns. This is a stark contrast to the low Facebook CPMs seen in Q2 of this year. However, Google search CPCs have remained level for these same clients, and there have been mixed results for native campaigns. Some clients have seen similar or even lower CPCs, while others have seen higher CPCs.

What States have seen the Most Political Election Spending?

Certain states have seen large portions of political spending. Some of the hotspots include Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Georgia, which are expected to exceed $150 million each on total political advertising spend. These are considered to be “swing states” or potential swing states, where neither major party has a definitive majority of votes and either party has a fair shot. Politicians are scrambling to get in front of undecided voters and sway their votes in the states that matter the most.

Although this is a short-lived inconvenience for digital marketers today, it is a trend that we will likely continue to see each year moving forward. Covid-19 has made everything transition to a more digital approach to advertising, including political races. That trend likely won’t be going away anytime soon.

*All data and projections are from Advertising Analytics and Cross Screen Media

Author avatar
Logan Hartman
Logan Hartman is a Paid Media Specialist with FoundSM. After co-writing a published research paper on consumer behavior, Logan joined our paid media team. She specializes in paid social services for our higher education and home services clients and works closely with our creative team.